JACKSON — A Jackson resident has been charged with assault after being accused of purposely hitting a pedestrian with his truck and fleeing the scene.
A Jackson County sheriff's deputy and Jackson Ambulance Service responded to the scene of the crash Jan. 13 on U.S. 71 near the intersection of Prospect Lane, where a man was reportedly lying in the southbound lane of U.S. 71 and appeared to be in a lot of pain. A mirror from the suspect vehicle was also on the roadway and was identified as belonging to a maroon Ford pickup.
Two other drivers had witnessed the collision and gave statements to the deputy. The first witness had been driving directly behind the suspect vehicle, described as a maroon pickup, when he saw a pedestrian crossing the road. The pickup then reportedly hit the pedestrian, who went "flying through the air," and the pickup sped up and drove away. The witness pulled over and began rendering aid to the victim. He also recalled the victim telling him the name of the driver was "Roy."
A second witness also described what had happened.
"That truck took a little," then the witness paused, "not a big swerve, but it hit (the victim) on purpose," he said.
The witness confirmed that the driver had not attempted to avoid the pedestrian, and that the victim had identified the driver.
"All I know is, I saw the guy run him over on purpose. He went flying. And I’m surprised he’s alive right now," he told law enforcement.
Due to recent contact with the victim, the deputy knew that "Roy" was someone who lived at the same apartment complex as the victim. The victim had a history of aggravating and upsetting his neighbors.
By asking around at the apartment complex, police identified the driver as Roy Sutherland, 50. Sutherland had a maroon Ford F-150 registered to him, which was missing a mirror that matched the one found at the scene of the crash.
Surveillance footage provided by the Jackson Liquor Store reportedly showed Sutherland's vehicle swerve toward and hit the victim during the incident.
During an interview with law enforcement, Sutherland was observed to have black, blue and puffy eyes, which he reportedly said had happened because someone had hit him the other day. Later, he admitted that he had hit the victim because the victim had hit him in the face with a statue.
According to the victim, a recent fire had left him needing a place to live, and after being given the number to a hotel, he spotted Sutherland driving toward him. He then took off his jacket and used it to flag down Sutherland, planning to ask him for a ride. When Sutherland noticed the victim, the victim said, he "was smiling and flooring it."
He explained that he had tried to move out of the way, but the vehicle had caught his leg, and his wrist had hit the mirror.
When the officer asked if Sutherland hit the victim on purpose, the victim reportedly said, "Yeah. How could he not see me? He was smiling, flooring it, and he never even turned around."
The victim's X-rays showed that his leg was broken in multiple places, and a bone in his hand was also broken.
Sutherland was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, a felony that carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. He was released from Jackson County Jail Jan. 16 after posting non-cash bond. His initial court appearance is scheduled for this morning.